My Latest Book: French on English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays by Dr. Charles F. French

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I am very happy to announce that I have been published! I wrote a book aimed at helping students learn how to improve their writing called French on English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays.

I have been teaching writing in higher education for over 25 years, primarily at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and I have written many handouts that I use in my classes. Among the topics covered in these handouts are drafting, editing, revision, confused words, and grammar. Many years ago, one of my students suggested that I put them into a book and call it French On English. The idea germinated inside me for a long time, and I finally decided I should do it.

I finally used those handouts as a basis for the book, and I added to them to create this text on writing essays.

Then I had the good fortune of speaking with a new publisher, who wanted to publish the book! Firebrand Literary Press is a wonderful organization, and I am extremely pleased by their work on this book and their support of me in my efforts! Thank you!

French on English: A Guide To Writing Better Essays is available now on Amazon.

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Available on Amazon

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Guest Underground Society Post by Josh Gross

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I want to give thanks to Josh Gross for contributing this excellent post to my blog. Please be sure to check out his blog: Jaguar and Allies .

Underground Library Society Post

 

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Introduction

 

In May of this year, Dr. Charles French extended an invitation to join his Underground Library Society (ULS). The ULS began as a project for Dr. French’s English 2 class, in which students were required to create a poster and blog about a book they would memorize. In this way, they might be able to save it from censorship.

 

Dr. French’s invitation asked readers to do the same thing: make a poster and blog about a book they would memorize. I selected the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence – better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

 

While I have not constructed a poster, what follows is an essay about why I would memorize this book.

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence

 

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(A portrait of T. E. Lawrence, as seen in Lowell Thomas’ With Lawrence in Arabia. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

In these pages in not the history of the Arab movement, but just of what happened to me in it…It treats of daily life, mean happenings, little people. Here are no lessons for the world, no events to shake peoples. It is filled with trivial things, partly that no one mistake it for history (it is the bones from which some day a man may make history), and partly for the pleasure it gave me to recall the fellowship of the revolt (Lawrence, 2011, p. 9).

 

I first picked up the Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a whim. I had just finished reading The Outsiders by Colin Wilson, which quoted Lawrence repeatedly. Lawrence’s words struck a chord with me, so I ordered a copy of his book. I had no idea what I was getting into.

 

The Seven Pillars is the memoir of the fabled “Lawrence of Arabia,” whom Michael Korda (2010) describes as, “a scholar, an archaeologist, a writer of genius, a gifted translator…a soldier of startling originality and brilliance; an instinctive leader of men; and, above all, a hero” (p. xvi).

 

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​(T. E. Lawrence, second from right in the middle row, accompanying Emir Faisal Hussein of Mecca at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

Lawrence’s memoir chronicles his experiences in the Arab Revolt of 1916, in which the Arabic peoples rose up against the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. Little did they know, they had entrusted their fates to a far more devious power than the Turks: the British Empire.

 

The Arab Revolt was both encouraged and supported by the British. At this time, Europe was locked in the bloody stalemate of World War I – with the British and Ottomans fighting on opposite sides. The British therefore helped to instigate a rebellion of the Arabs against the Ottomans, promising to grant their ‘friends’ freedom and a sovereign state.

 

But in a real-life conspiracy, the British and French met behind closed doors; deciding to carve up the Middle East amongst themselves however they saw fit. There would be no freedom for the Arabs.

 

From the beginning, Lawrence was a firm believer in the Arab Revolt. He initially supported it indirectly as a desk-based intelligence officer in Cairo. But when the revolt began to flounder, he entered the field as a liaison between the Arabic and British armies. His time in the field makes up the bulk of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

 

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(Much of Lawrence’s sympathy for the Arabs stemmed from his Oxford days, when he worked as an archaeologist at Carchemish. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

What first struck me about the Seven Pillars, and the primary reason I would memorize it, is the sheer beauty of its prose. Lawrence wrote with more skill, passion, and care than any author I have yet found. He described the scenery of Arabia so perfectly that the hues of the desert come to life; he writes about the characters so intimately that they seem like old friends; but, most of all, he describes his own thoughts and emotions in such detail that it is impossible not to be affected by them.

 

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(Wadi Rum, shown here, was one of Lawrence’s favorite places in Arabia. Wadi Rum by Dan. CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

It is in these moments of self-disclosure that the Seven Pillars truly shines. To be fair, I disagree with many of Lawrence’s sentiments. However, that does not detract from the quality of his writing. It is also during Lawrence’s ‘deeper’ passages that the central theme of the Seven Pillars becomes apparent: that of a man torn in two.

 

Lawrence was a proud Englishman, and felt that his first duty was to his homeland. Despite this, he also believed in a free Arabia. As the Seven Pillars progresses, the incompatible drives between serving his British masters and helping his Arabic friends gradually rip him apart.

 

This is the primary reason I would choose to memorize the Seven Pillars of Wisdom: it shows what happens when one chooses to obey authority over doing what they know to be right.

 

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(​Lawrence died on the morning of May 19, 1935, following a tragic motorcycle accident. TE Lawrence Effigy Wareham Church by Julian Hutchings. CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Lawrence never recovered from the war, and neither did the world. How different would the modern age be if the Arabs had been allowed to govern themselves, instead of being turned into the colonial play-things of the British, French, and later the Americans? We will never know.

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is more than a literary masterpiece. It is the story of broken promises, of failed dreams, and of a world that almost was. As Lawrence (2011) wrote:

 

I meant to make a new nation, to restore to the world a lost influence, to

give twenty millions of Semites an inspired dream-palace of their national

thoughts. So high an aim called out the inherent nobility of their minds, and made

them play a generous part in events: but when we won, it was charged against me

that British petrol royalties in Mesopotamia were become dubious, and French

colonial policy mined in the levant (p. 10).

 

I hope to preserve Lawrence’s words forever, so that the world never forgets the price of deception.

 

References

 

Korda, M. (2010). Hero: The life and legend of Lawrence of Arabia. New York, NY:

HarperCollins Publishers.

 

Lawrence, T. E. (2011). The seven pillars of wisdom: A triumph: The complete 1922 text.

Blacksburg, VA: Wilder Publications, Inc.

 

Once again, thank you to Josh Gross!

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Gallows Hill by Charles F. French in now in the Lehigh University Linderman Library!

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(photograph by Heather Simoneau)

I am very excited to announce that my horror novel Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 by Charles F. French is now in the Lehigh University Linderman Library in Bethlehem, PA!

I teach as an adjunct professor in the English Department, and I am both honored and moved to have my newest novel in this beautiful library.

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(photograph by Heather Simoneau)

 

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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An Invitation to Join the ULS: The Underground Library Society

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As some of you know, the students in my English 2 class at Lehigh University became members of a group I created for my class on book banning, the U.L.S. or the Underground Library Society.

It is based on Ray Bradbury’s extraordinary novel Fahrenheit 451 in which the owning and reading of books is a criminal act. A group of seeming nomads attempt to save books by “becoming” them. They memorize books in the hope that one day books will again be able to be printed.

My students had to choose a book they would become, blog about it, and create a poster featuring the logo of the group: a book with the letters ULS on it. Additionally, they put the title of the book and a statement about it on the poster. This was one of the most successful class activities that I have had the pleasure of assigning and witnessing in my time as a teacher.

I spoke with the class and asked if they would like to open membership in the ULS to everyone, and they enthusiastically said yes. I am very proud of this wonderful group of students.

My invitation is this–would you like to become a member of the ULS? All that is necessary is to chose a book you would memorize if you had to in order to save it, to design a small poster about the book, and to put it up somewhere. For those of you who chose to join, please either do a post about your book and poster or reply here.

Again, I am very proud of my students!

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Please join us!

A Reading of Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 by Charles F. French at Lehigh University Linderman Library

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Join us for an evening with the Investigative Paranormal Society

Please join us as Charles French reads from his latest book, Gallows Hill.  This is the second installment in French’s Investigative Paranormal Society series.

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When: 6:30 Thursday, March 29th

Where: Scheler Humanities Forum (Linderman 200)

Quotations From Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is one of my favorite plays, and I have had a life long connection with this work. I have read it, seen numerous productions, acted in it, directed it, studied it in college and graduate school, written about it, delivered a conference paper on it, and taught the play in college at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. So, you can see that I have had quite a relationship with this wonderful play.

As a simple tribute to Shakespeare and this play, I offer a few quotations from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“Captain of our fairy band,

 Helena is here at hand,

 And the youth, mistook by me,

 Pleading for a lover’s fee.

 Shall we their fond pageant see?

 Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

                                             (Act 3. Scene 2. Lines 110-115)

 

“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.”

                                             (Act 4. Scene 2. Lines 203-204)

 

“If we shadows have offended,

 Think but this, and all is mended,

 That you have but slumbered here

 While this visions did appear.

 And this weak and idle theme,

 No more yielding but a dream,

 Gentles, do not reprehend.

 If you pardon, we will mend.

 And, as I am an honest Puck,

 If we have unearned luck

 Now to scrape the serpent’s tongue,

 We will make amends ere long;

 Else the Puck a liar call.

 So, good night unto you all.

 Give me your hands, if we be friends,

 And Robin shall restore amends.” (Act 5. Scene 1. Lines 418-433)

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Quotations in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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Here are three quotations from The Tempest by William Shakespeare, one of his romances, formerly called the tragi-comedies, a genre he worked in toward the end of his incredible career. I have used this play often in my classes both at the Wescoe School for adult students at Muhlenberg College and at Lehigh University.

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“You do look, my son, in a moved sort,

 As if you were dismay’d; be cheerful, sir.

 Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

  As I foretold you, were all spirits and

 Are melted into air: into thin air

 And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

 The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,

 The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

 Ye, all which it inherit, shall dissolve

 And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

 Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

 As dreams are made on, and our little life

 Is rounded with a sleep.”

(The Tempest Act 4. Scene 1. Lines 161-173.)

 

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(William Hamilton)

“But this rough magic

 I here abjure, and, when I have required

 Some heavenly music, which even now I do,

To work my end upon their senses that

 This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,

 Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,

 And deeper than did ever plummet sound

I’ll drown my book.”

(The Tempest Act 5. Scene 1. Lines 55-62)

 

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(John William Waterhouse)

“O, wonder!

 How many goodly creatures are there here!

 How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

 That has such people in’t”

(The Tempest Act 5. Scene 1. Lines (203-206)